Bears' Robbie Gould apologizes

Updated: November 14, 2012, 6:20 PM ET
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- A day after criticizing the Soldier Field grounds crew for a "soft" field on Sunday night against the Houston Texans, Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould issued an apology through the team.

"I need to apologize to the grounds crew at Soldier Field and our grounds crew for my recent comments regarding the field," Gould said in a statement. "I have since learned a lot more about the NFL's policies and the measures that are taken at Soldier Field to ensure a reliable and safe playing surface. It was my mistake to speak prior to having a full understanding."

Weather reports all week called for a chance of heavy precipitation to hit the area before and during the Bears game, but as early as five hours before kickoff the field remained exposed to the elements. Rain began to fall in the area a couple of hours before kickoff and did not cease until after the game.

"For some reason this season, and I don't know whose job it is, and I love our guys in the Chicago Bears organization that takes care of our fields, but I want to know this year who decided to keep the field so soft that it's been tore up the entire year," Gould said Tuesday night on "Football Night in Chicago" on ESPN 1000. "Let's put it to you this way: If I were a grounds crew superintendent, I think I would keep a little bit of an eye if they were calling for rain for six straight days, and I just might roll a tarp out on the field before the game.

"I don't know, maybe that's common sense. Maybe that's too tough to get done. I'm just saying I would do it. I would do it."

Stadium general manager Tim LeFevour told the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday that the middle 40 yards of the field will be replaced with new sod on Friday.

"Those are ridiculous comments," LeFevour told the Tribune. "He doesn't know what he is talking about. The field has not been an issue all year, and we haven't heard anyone else complaining."

Soldier Field is owned and operated by the Chicago Park District, which has said it is open to the idea of switching to an artificial playing surface. However, the Bears continue to say they prefer a grass field.

Earlier Wednesday at Halas Hall, Gould didn't back down from his comments, and even suggested the field conditions might play a role in his re-signing with the Bears.

"Hopefully we can find a happy medium," Gould said. "If those are the conditions we have to play in, I'll just have to adjust. Obviously, those are the types of situations you look for in re-signing with teams. I have a year left on my contract, and I hope to stay a Bear. Those will be situations I take into (consideration). I don't know if I want to deal with that as I get older as a kicker.

"But at the same time I'd love to retire a Bear, and I'd love to be here. I got a year left before we start talking about things like that, but those are things that guys like myself and (in) my position think about."

One of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, Gould connected on 2 of 3 field goals in the wet and windy conditions against the Texans but missed a 48-yarder in the fourth quarter that would have made it a one-point game. For the season, Gould has hit 18 of 21 field goals, with all three misses coming at Soldier Field.

Gould hit a 41-yard field goal to beat the Carolina Panthers 23-22 on Oct. 28 at Soldier Field, but said Tuesday that the deteriorating field made that kick tougher for him and long snapper Patrick Mannelly.

"I don't know what's happening," Gould said Tuesday. "This year our field has been real bad, it's been tore up. There have actually been some places on the field where some portions of it have actually sunk to a new low level, and the other spots are high. So take for instance the game-winning (field goal) against the Carolina Panthers. On the left hash, three-quarters of the hash is really high and then it's like a cliff, it just falls off for like four or five inches.

"So when we made the kick, if you go and watch that kick on film we are outside the portion of the hash which makes it a lot tougher (with regard) to the timing and the rhythm of the snap for Pat Mannelly. He is the best long snapper in the NFL, so for him he makes it look it easy.

"But it's been really interesting to watch this year how bad our field has really been. I know we have talked about this every single year, probably every single show, can we please hire somebody ... can we please get somebody in there that watches a news report?"

Gould said Wednesday on "Carmen, Jurko & Harry" that he was not using the field conditions as an excuse for his missed field goals.

"I'm the fifth-most accurate kicker in the history of the National Football League, and I think if you watch any interview I have never once complained (about) missed field goals based on the surface of the field," Gould said.

Gould is not the first Bears player to be critical of the field conditions at Soldier Field.

Several high profile Bears players have expressed their unhappiness with the natural grass playing surface in the past few years, including quarterback Jay Cutler who called the Soldier Field turf "one of the worst fields in the league" during a news conference in December 2010. Linebacker Brian Urlacher called the turf "a disaster" and advocated installing FieldTurf in June 2011.

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.